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NCLB: Time to Change Course?


Stay the course? Surge? Or rethink the mission? These familiar foreign policy questions are now being turned towards reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. A government NCLB study group is eyeing a strategy of more testing and greater reliance on test scores. But author John Merrow says this is a "backward-thinking" approach.

Merrow argues that the law has fueled a "soft bigotry of low expectations" by allowing states to set their own standards and emphasizing cheap standardized testing. The law, he says, has narrowed curriculum and undermined efforts to develop more sophisticated assessment tools. Staying the course would be "disastrous," he warns, and we should use this time to determine what kind of education we want for our children.

What do you think? Can the NCLB law be saved? Should its reauthorization be delayed?


I say REPEAL the NCLB Act. The words mislead and this law has been a nightmare. No one wants any child left behind. The title of the this horrid law deceives, and was not designed with the best interest of children, teachers, and our nation. One must look deeper that surface words. I say follow the money. This law was designed to "take down" public schools. The NCLB Law has narrowed the curriculum, has been used to frighten parents, and holds teachers and students hostage. Geez, the NCLB Law has taken good money and given that money to corporations. Schools are not factories, and all students have value. How about lowering class size and supporting teachers, not insisting that they read scripted lessons developed by those far away from the classrooms.

NCLB must not be renewed. It is not a good law gone bad or underfunded. It is a bas law intended to make public education look like a failed ideal with theultimate intentionof privatizing American education. The worst part is what it has done to curriculum and particularly the teaching of reading where science has been turned on its head and the greedy flat earth theorists at the University of Oregon have been put in charge. Where is the ooutrage at the violations of the law itself and the illegal conflicts of interest in the two Inspector General's reports.

Let's start with the original ESEA and move forward with positive support of schools and teachers working to teach all kids to the best of their abilities and interests.
Ken Goodman

Schools have no one to blame but themselves if they socially promote students who cannot meet grade-level expectations. For too many years schools have followed the line of least resistance: offering the special education category as an excuse for promoting kids who lack basic skills. In America, a student can reach high school while still reading at a third grade level. NCLB opponents may be proud of that but I'm not. The best place to learn how to read at the fourth grade level is in third grade, not at the high school.

When I began teaching in 1995, I was able to "bring up" the test scores of my students. I was commended for this, but I will forever say this was possible because I was allowed to teach to the students and not "to the test". I'm currently not in a "regular" classroom, but teach intellectually gifted students. I hear not only from my students, but also fellow educators that there is no longer any room for anything mentally stimulating in the classroom. Curriculum has been reduced to reading, language and math, and in fifth grade, all of a sudden science becomes important. All subjects were considered important in the past, however now it's drill, drill and more drilling. One of my students is not doing well in his regular classwork and when I asked him what was going on, he told me he thought as long as he did well on the (standardize) test, he would be allowed to pass to the next grade. This was from a child that showed advanced scores on all parts of "the test". Teachers are frightened, parents are confused (I don't want MY child left behind) and though they won't readily admit it, administrators are frightened as well. Their backs are also against the wall and they have the additional burden of cracking whips at teachers to follow policy with which they don't necessarily agree. If allowed to continue on its course, NCLB is eventually going to help create an Idiocracy of people that may know how to read, write and compute a number sentence, but not truly have an appreciation for learning.

I am glad that I used one of my free articles for the week to read this one. This article was far more thoughtful than I anticipated. The author speaks truth when he points out the pittance that we have spent on educational R&D (which includes adequate testing methods).

Let me also say, however, that this doesn't let us off the hook for "teaching to the test" and other drill and kill shortcuts. It is true that schools and teachers can game the accountability system for awhile this way--but in the end, even when measuring by the current tests, the progress will level and perhaps decline once the percentage of students closest to the bar are pushed over. Without real attention to what and how students are taught, and what they are learning, the true reforms that bring the real results will never be arrived at.

This includes inquiry-based learning and reading across the content areas--even building a volcano, if one is clear about why and what the intended lesson is.

But the focus on the testing ONLY, tends to obscure what we have established through the testing, which is that not every child is getting the same level of education--and it tends to be inequitably distributed based on race and income.

It would be a sin and a shame to walk away now.

The Commission on No Child Left Behind has issued a new report (2/13/07) with 74 reommendations for amending the five year old law for eventual reauthorization. The original legislation was not perfect. It was, however, a step in the right direction following "A Nation At Risk" from 1983. NCLB had two main drawbacks; a decline in funding from the feds from the original legislation and inconsistent achievement standards from one state to the next. US schools from Alaska to Florida need financial assurance the law will be adequately funded for the next five years. These same schools also need a national curriculum with corresponding national assessments and national achievement standards to assure all students nationwide equal access to the same rich body of knowledge we want for all our children.

I have seen first-hand the disastrous results of high-stakes testing, mainly in the form of a narrowed curriculum that focuses on test scores. NCLB is a national disaster of the proportions of Global Warming. Following the money trail to the psuedo-scientists' game is a start, but will they be indicted? This "back-to-basics" fiasco (of which NCLB is a large part)has been a huge setback to education. Can we get back to the facts (that reading is a language process and language is meaningful), or shall we continue to pad the pockets of the rip-off artists who are leaving children and all conscientious educators behind in their quest to dominate the commercial "educational" market?

Isn't Ken Goodman the originator of the disastrous "whole language? We now have a generation of poor spellers who can't write a decent school paper and must take remedial courses in college. Good job Goodman, you put this nation back 50 years!

I think there is a delicate balance here, but I agree that the amount of testing pushes "teaching to the test" because of fear.

I think the approach should have been more multi=pronged and I think ignoring efforts to improve teaching while emphasising test scores was a backwards looking mistake, because what it does is perpetuate "traditional" teaching methods, just more of the same.

There are so many demands on educators--technology is changing incredibly fast, web 2.0 tools are changing how our students learn, Special Education requirements are changing, testing requirements are changing...how do we scaffold and support educators so that the changes they make are meaningful and long-lasting?

The metrics are driving the wrong behavior because there aren't any programs in place to drive the right behavior. From the start, the emphasis has felt punitive to schools instead of like a supportive, collaborative mission.

And how do we make sure we have tests in place in states that are performance-based, and where is the leadership on that issue as well? If a state's test is mere "fact" memorization, it is drniving a emphasis on 20th century skills.

I'm not opposed to national standards as long as they come with a built in, well-thought out, 21st century focused set of supports for our teachers, so that not only are we attending to children that get ignored in our system, but so that teachers are receiving innovative support in doing so.

The NCLB Act has a noble but impractical tarnished goal. Does it consider the environments that a lot of our students come from, or does it try and pigeon-hole all students into one way of assessing their ability?

Have the geniuses who created this Act considered that the Nation At Risk study did not compare apples with apples regarding the TIMMS study? The sample of 8th grade students compared from other countries was skewed. We admit anyone who walks in the door whereas other countries cull less capable students.

For what our public education system was designed to do, educate the masses, it does the best job on the planet. Furthermore, who holds the parents or parent/guardian accountable for the student's lack of effort/motivation, attendance issues? No, it is far easier to point the finger at the teachers and schools. I would love one of these bureaucrats to teach for 2 weeks in some of our schools, with limited antiquated resources.

If we are to take education seriously, we will establish high expectations, but diverse expectations. Students who want to follow a collegiate, academic path, should have different expectations and choices than students who want a more general vocational track. This choice should be offered earlier starting at 6th or 7th grade. Try making sense of the Pythagorean Theorem to a middle school student with an interest in hairdressing, is lucky to get dinner, and has a single substance abuse parent. Then let them know if they must past the State Exam. However if you gave that student a choice in their education, watch them get engaged in the process.

Consequences should be understood by all and enforced concerning failure to participate in the education being offered. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but cannot make it drink. Schools are not babysitters, or daycare centers.

When the powers to be take this mission seriously and fund the proper programs, rather than slap test after test at the issue, we will make great progress.

If anyone wants to add me to a National Panel to attack this problem with reasonable sense, email me at: [email protected]

The No Child Left Behind Act was, is and will continue to be a failed legislation. It is first of all, an intrusion of Federal will on States' Rights. The law seeks to lever state compliance by threatening to withhold financial aid to the states that do not comply. Like the 55 mile per hour speed limit and motorcycle helmet initiatives, NCLB will eventually go away. The funding that the Federal Department of Education threatens to stop amounts to less than 10% of all funding for all schools when it is fully funded. Since NCLB has been adopted, it has never been fully funded.
The law is designed to sound good. The language suggests that reasearch based, proven methods will be used to reform education and that schools, school districts, and states will be held accountable to the taxpayers. In the last five years, the only "proven" method that has been used is teaching to the test. It does, in fact, raise scores. Repeated attempts at the same test do, predictably result in achievement on that test. There is no measure of the education that goes into that achievement because all that is measured is the output.
The law is based on the misleading language of 1983's "A Nation at Risk". This silly pamphlet was a waste of tax dollars, authorized by a president who tried to use it, before even reading it, as a reason to stop using federal funds for schools. This is the same president that asked, "Isn't catsup a vegetable?" when referring to funding for free and loew cost lunches. The pamphlet did have the result of frightening parents to believe that their children were in some way recieving a substandard education.
I have gone on too long. In simmary, NCLB was supposed to reform education. It has not. NCLB was supposed to give students 21st century skills. Students are using 21st century skills, such as texting and IM, that were learned "on the street" to cheat on exams and to plagiarize essays and reports. NCLB was supposed to fund reliable achievement assessments. It has funded, and poorly, a new tier of bureaucracy to try to sort out the many, often conflicting mandates of the law.

NCLB is a national nightmare. It is a travesty to the education system and an attempt to put a bandage on a much bigger problem. We need to look at the whole education system in general. We have become a nation who promotes teaching to the test, instead of encouraging our children to think critically and be creative on their own.

Our students are tested too much now. A test isn't the only way to assure that students gain knowledge in a subject. As the parent of a 4th grader, I have seen him tested and tested and tested. His school was just selected to be part of the National State report card, so guess what? He gets to take another test.

As one of the comments I read stated, no one wants any child left behind. But in order to do that, we need a total revamping of the nation's school system. We need to allow teachers to teach in creative and meaningful ways, not make sure that they can get passing grades for all their on standardized tests.

We do not need a Department of Education that dictates standards and laws to individual states. Maybe President Bush thought his legacy would be NCLB????

NCLB should not be renewed. This only holds teachers accountable for students' scores and lowers expectations at the same time. We need to continue to raise student and teacher expectations but we must include the parents also. School districts need to be able to hold their teachers accountable for their students but there must be support from the central office and the parents to make sure that education comes first in every students' life.

I have been a special educator of emotionally disturbed students for years and now learning disabled students. They have neurological, psychiatric, and medical issues that impact their whole lives, not just their education. They struggle with work grade levels under their grade placement level because it somply takes them longer to learn or their issues don't allow them to retain, but they are expected to be "exposed" to grade level curriculum and be able to understand it. They are also supposed to take and "pass" standardized tests for their grade placement level. This is absolutely ridiculous and I have seen children get so stressed out about these tests they become physically self-abusive. Likewise, I have seen good teachers consider themselves failures. Every day I fight my conscience and professional judgement when I am teaching "the curriculum" and I know these kids need support in the basics they were not yet able to grasp because of their disability. These are the kids that WILL be left behind! All kids cannot perform the same way. All kids cannot meet the same standard. What all kids need is an education tailored to help them meet their specific potential, whatever it may be. If it takes them longer to learn how to read, so be it. At least they will learn and they will be literate. They might have to learn how to use a calculator instead of learning calculus. But I feel my job is to help these kids be happy, independent, and productive members of our society. Let's give them what they need! This won't happen if teachers are pressured to cram all the standards into these kids in time for standardized testing. These kids won't "get it" anyway so they won't do very well on the tests, regardless. And so what if they do pass? I don't think that's any indication they have a sound basis of the skills truly needed for life. How many of us use our geometry and think about all the microscopic organisms we had to learn the names of and identify? How many of us convert U.S. measurement to metric? How many of us analyse what we read for hyperbole, simile and metaphor? So we are wasting valuable educational time of special needs individuals in not addressing their specific needs but rather teaching standards irrelevant to the students and only relevant to some test somebody somewhere made up and somebody somewhere decided to purchase to be the end-all in student achievement. And you wonder why we have such a tremendous teacher shortage! And you wonder why this society is going to H*** in a paper rowboat that's already on fire???

Students are short-changed by NCLB, both the thinking behind it, the actual implementation of it. Mind-numbing practices are in place to get students to pass the test. Teachers don’t feel like teachers anymore; rather they are trainers to get students to pass the test. Everyone is under great stress and the beauty of education is lost.
We were told you can’t solve the problems of education by throwing money at them. I don’t believe we can solve them by throwing tests at them either. The huge amounts of money that go into testing (and to the corporations that benefit from the testing mentality) could be spent to give schools and teachers the tools they need to be successful with the unbelievably diverse population of students before them.
One thing teachers desperately need is time to work collaboratively with other educators for the benefit of students. Twenty-first century workplace skills include collaboration in problem-solving; yet our educators, particularly teachers, have no time for that. They still work mostly in isolation and have little time during the workday to meet with other educators to plan for better ways of teaching and of meeting the needs of the students they face in common. With a focus on the real students in front of them rather than on a faceless, often meaningless test, teachers can work miracles for children. Time, of course, is money and that money is being placed everywhere but where it can really do the most good.

As a veteran teacher of 27 years I have watched all the education fads and laws come and go. Few fads have survived past 2-3 years and laws ..depending on their relevance and empowerment some are still on the books. Funding has changed, equal opportunity for all students has been challenged, and curriculum levels of difficulty continue to increase. I am wondering why a group of educated men and women in business suits feel qualified to establish laws and standards for educational institutions when most of them have not been in the classroom as teacher.They have not spent time filtering through schools to see first hand "how things work" and the demands of being in a classroom with 25 children of different ethnicities, reading levels, emotional problems, abusive situations, ADHD, physical challenges, language deficiencies, and on and on and on. Legislators do NOT HAVE A CLUE how children are educated and I would bet my job they wouldn't have a clue how to teach. NCLB is the biggest crock the federal government has stirred since the Vietnam War! Washington does not realize they are choking the life out of teachers who are already spending evenings at school, taking work home, planning a way to teach 9th grade curriculum to 6th graders, and visiting their doctor in between to treat the ulcers/IBS/reflux created by the stress of someone constantly breathing down your neck. I challenge legislators to get into the classroom trenches .... they visit soldiers in IRAQ ...come visit US ...talk to US ...listen to US! After all we do have a college education and have been required to attend trainings every year since graduation. Are legislators required to go back to school so they can create mandates for US? NO! So I challenge them to GO BACK TO SCHOOL like we do each day!

As a veteran teacher of 27 years I have watched all the education fads and laws come and go. Few fads have survived past 2-3 years and laws ..depending on their relevance and empowerment some are still on the books. Funding has changed, equal opportunity for all students has been challenged, and curriculum levels of difficulty continue to increase. I am wondering why a group of educated men and women in business suits feel qualified to establish laws and standards for educational institutions when most of them have not been in the classroom as teacher.They have not spent time filtering through schools to see first hand "how things work" and the demands of being in a classroom with 25 children of different ethnicities, reading levels, emotional problems, abusive situations, ADHD, physical challenges, language deficiencies, and on and on and on. Legislators do NOT HAVE A CLUE how children are educated and I would bet my job they wouldn't have a clue how to teach. NCLB is the biggest crock the federal government has stirred since the Vietnam War! Washington does not realize they are choking the life out of teachers who are already spending evenings at school, taking work home, planning a way to teach 9th grade curriculum to 6th graders, and visiting their doctor in between to treat the ulcers/IBS/reflux created by the stress of someone constantly breathing down your neck. I challenge legislators to get into the classroom trenches .... they visit soldiers in IRAQ ...come visit US ...talk to US ...listen to US! After all we do have a college education and have been required to attend trainings every year since graduation. Are legislators required to go back to school so they can create mandates for US? NO! So I challenge them to GO BACK TO SCHOOL like we do each day!

In the comments above, I hear some troubling dichotomies that I believe deserve challenge. One views creative teaching as incompatible with measureable achievement.

Another is that that students with special needs (and some others, such as future hairdressers)won't have their needs met within the general curriculum and will therefore be poorly prepared for life.

Personally, I think that some of the most challenging features of NCLB is the amount of judgement/decision-making that is left to states (and depending on the state, turned over to local district). While there are camps that prefer fact-specific standards (dates in history, prescribed reading lists, etc), not all do--many outline concepts with a great amount of freedom to create curriculum around the concepts.

In the schools that are succeeding--particularly those with dramatic turn-around (and I can point to one in my community with particularly stellar results for kinds with emotional disabilities)--it is the result of the professionals accepting responsibility for using the available data, for aligning their curriculum to standards, for seeking out research-based methods (and aligning their Professional Development to strenghthen this), for believing in the possibility of success for their particular population, and going after it.

I empathize with those teachers in buildings where the leadership is clueless, that lack a critical mass of teachers willing to examine, learn and make changes--and to work together collaboratively to make them happen. But this is not the result of the requirements in the law.

For too long, there have been whole districts providing education that is "good enough" for the kids that they teach. The flight of parents with resources to move elsewhere has not moved them, ESEA did not move them, IDEA did not move them. After so many years, NCLB comes along and the jig is up. They have just six years to get on track with their state's definition of AYP (and it varies from state to state--some make equal steps upward, some started with a more gradual slope, some give extra credit to those on the bottom if they make some progress), then, if they don't--they have to make a plan for improvement. The scariest thing about NCLB is not the sanctions--it is the publication of test scores that show how well the kids are learning.

NCLB can only be effective if the curriculum it forces on schools accurately reflects what is needed for learning. Case in point: intensive instruction in decoding and word identification forced on schools by Reading First. Such instruction totally ignores the implicit processing that is required for efficient reading (figuring out how to simultaneously use multiple forms of knowledge to rapidly and accurately reconstruct an author's message). Millions of pre-adolescents and adolescents are struggling with reading by the time they reach 6th, 7th, and 8th grades because government-funded researchers got it wrong--they chose to focus on research that involved identifying words on word lists, NOT sentence comprehension (especially multiple sentences in a single passage). Identifying words on word lists is not reading. If NCLB continues to be "informed" by flawed science, not only will the initiative fail, it will hurt children by promoting instructional methods that STUNT children's intellectual growth.

NCLB has certainly sparked controversy over the quality of education in this country and the comments above clearly show there are two camps:
1) Educators not willing to change and adapt to the world today - and as it will be tomorrow;
2) The rest of the citizenry who deal with the changing world and must adapt constantly, is continually being "tested" and reviewed in their jobs, and is concerned about education not keeping up (ant the effect on our country in the world economy.)

Since the days of Dr. Spock, educators have preached a broad curriculum and liberalized discipline. The results are obvious today: too many students don't know the basics!

As to "testing", teachers have gone far too long without accountability. They have been reviewed and assessed by their peers, not their customers. They have insisted that "they" establish curricula and determine what should be taught. What a farce! Society, industry, and post-secondary education know THEIR needs, and THEY ARE THE CUSTOMERS. Public schools today face the same problem Ford Motor Co. acknowledged as they restructured to avoid bankruptcy: If you try to dictate to your customer, they WILL go elsewhere.

NCLB is simply trying to return public education to its original purpose: to prepare the population for success in the "Industrial Age". And, to provide some measurement standards so every citizen can determine if their children are being treated and taught equally and fairly, no matter what state they live in, how wealthy they are, or what their race might be!

Teachers are not being asked to TEACH, but to play roles that they have not been trained to play. We wonder why education is suffering. It's because teachers are not allowd to teach. They are required to PLAY every other societal role, rather than effectively teach their subject matter. It's a shame and disgrace. Society has dumped all of its responsibilities on the shoulders of teachers. There is entirely too much external INTERFERENCE in the classroom. Parents and adminsitrators are BULLYING and coercing teachers to pass children through high school and then colleges and businesses complain about how UNPREPARED graduates are. As long as teachers are continuously THREATENED with their loss of livelihood, they will continue to pass students that should be held back. It's an international disgrace, the state of most educational systems world-wide and it's getting worse. I am so thankful I was educated during atime when PARENTS and the society respected teachers and the teaching profession. God help teachers and future students.

NCLB is probably the worst thing to hit education since education began here in this country. We are spending an inordinate amount of money on testing. What does the testing tell us? Students who come from low income inner city schools tend to do poorly. We have known that for a long time. Instead of going to those schools and talking to students, parents and educators to find out what they needed, assumptions were made. Students in special education tend to perform poorly. I believe that is the reason that they are in special education in the first place. NCLB expects all children to be learning the same curriculum regardless of ability. A student who cannot read is expected to learn about Haikus. A student who cannot hear is expected to listen to a story. A student who cannot see is expected to differentiate between colors.

What about using research based ideas to help schools improve? Research generally shows that testing does not help the students in the classroom. Research also shows that teaching to the test may improve student test scores, but does little to enhance higher level thinking.

We are entering the 21st century. Many of our students are technologically illiterate. They see plenty of TV, use the IPOD, make pages on myspace and create videos for you tube, but they are unable to interpret the information that they find on the Internet or get from TV because we are too busy trying to teach the test.

If NCLB were not bad enough, there are proposals that would make it even worse. The Aspen Institute has recommended that teachers be personally held accountable for student scores. If the students under a teacher did not perform for 3 years in a row, that teacher would be terminated. Having taught in an inner city school, I see this as a disaster in the making. Teachers would be unlikely to accept jobs where student performance is low because they would be putting their careers on the line. After three years, a majority of teachers at an inner city school would be gone. There is a limit to the number of licensed educators that will go into those classrooms today, and this proposal will reduces that number to virtually none.

In short, NCLB is a failure. There are no quick fixes to the problems facing our classrooms today and reauthorizing NCLB, even with some of the proposed changes, will not provide the fixes that we need. We need to first determine the reasons why our children are not succeeding before we address the problem. This was not done with NCLB and is not being done with the reauthorization. Unless we change this we are dooming even more children to fail and the all of the children in this country will be left behind because they cannot compete in the global marketplace.

I see many good, constructive comments to the Merrow article. The comments take different paths to the same general conclusion - the state of education today - whatever the reason - is unacceptable. What I don't see is organization. How can we, collectively, pull together the equivalent of a "million man" march for education reform? This kind of activism is the only way to bring focussed attention to the issues and let individuals know they are not alone.

The NCLB legislation has undeniably impacted the pedagogical experiences of both teachers and students over the course of its first five years of implementation. Some argue it has narrowed curriculum, reduced rich learning opportunities to mere memorization and recall exercises, and encouraged teachers to "teach to the test". Others believe that NCLB is a necessary step toward ensuring that all children have an equal opportunity to be exposed to high quality education regardless of demographic or circumstance. Having worked with hundreds of teachers across the country, I believe both to be true.

One of the reasons so many educators find themselves swimming blind in this sea of accountability is because so few of them have been taught the necessary survival skills needed to be successful in our current educational environment. I have found, on average, that less than 15% of the faculty at schools across the country have taken a semester-long course on measuring student achievement, test development, or using student performance outcomes to inform their instruction. As shocking as this may seem…it is true. In most instances these topics are embedded in other courses or touched upon in methods-type classes.

In essence, many teachers are being asked to teach in a data driven, testing-oriented environment without the wherewithal to do so. It is like being asked to coach a baseball team without ever having been taught the rules of the game. This is a huge obstruction to the success of large scale accountability programs like NCLB.

With respect to equity and access to high quality instruction and courses of rigor, NCLB has forced us to recognize significant subgroups that, in some instances, have been left behind. To the credit of the educational community, we are seeing movement toward the closing of the achievement gap, more diversity in Advanced Placement and Honors courses, and a belief that all students can learn. These, I submit, represent some of the positive impacts NCLB has had on public education.

Should NCLB get reauthorized?

Whether it does or doesn’t, I believe it safe to say that accountability is here to stay. Too much has been invested to suggest otherwise. I believe through the educating of teachers in the use of assessment strategies in a more prescriptive sense, i.e., to target remediation efforts, monitor instructional effectiveness, etc., we will establish a more student-centric institution of public education that promotes student success at all levels.

The future of our world lies with the children of today and how we teach them to take good care of each other and the universe that surrounds us.

Formal testing is not the way to find out if children are learning what we deem they need to know. Observation and notes of daily activities and interactions are what will determine the effects of what is being taught and how it is being interpretted by the children. The way the material is being taught will also determine how much children are learning materials that will stay with them the rest of their lives. "Learning for the test" is not an appropriate way for children or any human being to learn. That way is only good for short term memory and is only focused on particular material that can be put on paper. Children learn by hands-on activities and they maintain the information though that process and the emotional attachment they build with the materials and the people they interact with.

Teachers need to be "facilitators" and present situations for children to learn-by-doing with guiding questions and positive support from the adult. The adult needs to be observant and take individual journal notes of how the children are interacting with each other, the creativity they use, and the conclusions they come up with. Indulging the children at their level and providing a format for them to explain the outcome of their projects will demonstrate the knowledge the children have developed from their interactions. That is the test of how and what they have learned. Each activity should build on the previous, therefore building on the information and focusing the students on what they need to know to prosper and be caring about their fellow human beings, all of life, and the universe. Learning by doing is the best teacher.

Teachers are in the field of teaching because it is what they are interested in and what they do best. When looking at the whole history of teachers, you find that the pay is not the motivation. Seeing the "light bulbs" light up is the biggest stimulus for a true teacher. However, because of the way our system of teaching has evolved, teachers are being detered from doing what they love. They are being told that they don't know enough, so get more training, that is extra time out of the classroom, so days become 11 hours long. Most teachers have families they need to attend to, also. When teachers are tired, they are not at their best. They are being challenged by the NCLB inhibitors and depressors. The restrictions on time to teach and being evaluated by the amount a child learns is not appropriate. As teachers can't open a child's head and pour in the information. Those are two negatives. They don't equal a positive, they are a detriment to the profession of teaching and learning.

If teachers are to do the best job of teaching children of all ages, they need to be supported in what they are teaching with materials, administration, pay, and curriculum that will build an atmosphere of teaching and learning naturally.

The government needs to listen much more to the needs of children and how they learn. Brain and emotional, and physical developmental understanding needs to be taugh to our government officials if they want to be so involved in the teaching of our children.

I don't think that pollitician are born teachers. If they were, they wouldn't be in politics. Teachers need to be in charge of the process of teaching with the government's support monetarily, and with jobs that teachers are training the children to learn to do.

Teachers deserve much more respect from the government and the public for all their efforts in teaching all the citizens of the United States of America, in the past, present and future. We all agree that no child should be deprived of an education. But let's be sure of what and how we want them to learn. By giving teachers respect and granting them the ability to do their job well, the children will learn much more than they are today. We will see great improvements in creativity and a bright future for the world.

Repeal the NCLB Act. It misleads and takes away energy for "real" learning in the humanities, the sciences, and the arts. Putting more money and effort into this ridiculous law is plain foolish. Learning involves more than passing high stakes tests. Besides that what a number does not tell us is an important question to ask. Using one high stakes test score to determine learning is professional mal-practice. Education involves more than training to past tests. The NCLB Act has narrowed the curriculum and has left everyone behind except those making money because of it. And by the way, schools are not factories and should not be made into factories. The raw products are humans with great variation. The reauthorization of the NCLB Act is irrational, except of course, for those corporations who are getting rich because of this law. With regards to teacher accountability, I agree they must take responsibilit. I don't know of one teacher who does not feel a huge responsibility to their students. But what about parents and society at large? Parents and society also play important roles in any student's life. Thus, placing blame primarily on teachers is pure nonsense. This "blame and shame game" fueled by the NCLB Act is tiresome and dysfunctional. Has anyone thought about using the money to lower class size? Oh, can't do this, the corporations wouldn't get the money.

As a mother, school board member and an ed prof/teacher trainer I am horrified to see how this legislation is being implemented. Tools like DIBELS are based on the assumption that if we just treat a few symptoms, we will resolve issues of inequity. Learning issues are so much more based on how the child comes to school, but we don't discuss this. If I could try to paraphrase Michael Apple, what I see is the impact of neo-liberals and the corporate managerial class willfully asserting their misguided assumption that the answer to all problems lies in systematizing. If there is any truth to this then the real system we should be looking at is how we treat children and families in total, not just in school. And our educators are spread so thin that most can't see the forest for the trees and are just grateful for teaching tools...anything that can make managing their overcrowded and underfunded classrooms less exhausting.
And then there's the narrowing of the curriculum. We're so focused on literacy as the great equalizer that meaningful, integrated learning and curriculum are ignored. School plays? Service learning? Music? These are the casualties.
I am not a conspiracy theorist, or at least I don't want to be, but how do we climb out of this trap?

I found it verrrrrry interesting that Ted Sanders is on the commission and one of the very first recommendations was to use Sanders' methods (which are proprietary and making him a TON of money) to determine which teachers are "effective."

I find it disgusting that he didn't excuse himself due to a conflict of interest, once the conversation turned to the area in which he makes all his money. I pretty much lost any faith in the commission's recommendations when it failed to disclose this.

There is so much that is wrong about No Child Left Behind, it is difficult to know where to begin to try to fix it. However, since there appears to be a greater push for national education standards, at least one question that begs to be answered is, just whose standards are we to adopt as a nation?

The otherwise all-too-intrusive NCLB legislation has precious little to say about standards beyond directing the states to develop self-identified “challenging academic achievement standards” for their students. The result has been a hodge-podge of expectations and conflicting achievement measures from each of the states.

But before we plunge into having Washington politicos and their profit-seeking friends in the testing industry take on standards, let us consider that the national professional education organizations for each of the subject areas of math, science, social studies, English, and reading provide model standards and strategies for implementing them. Anyone who is interested in learning more about these standards might begin by going to the websites of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the International Reading Association.

I am an experienced educator who worked with the least literate population among us and was required to teach them English, reading, writing, math, and cultural acquistion, plus all other subjects.

I must agree with Dennis Johnston above who states that a majority of educators simply do not know how to assess, and teach for mastery.

I have seen many educators who DO not want to do a good job; they do not know what the curriculum standards are; they do not focus on achievement AND mastery. They may be trying but they are not always eager, willing and committed to learning new information, new ways, methods, abd applying them to working with students.

There is a reason people in this country are disappointed with education and educators and want change.

Some good I have seen driven by the NCLB act is that administrators, kids, and educators are forced to change what they have always have done even though kids were failing.

I was a reading teacher to young kids. There is NO reason why an average kid can not learn to read unless the teacher does not know how to teach him. I taught immigrant kids to read English. I am not referring to special education students but am referring to every ethnic/ economic group.

A fifty percent dropout rate is not successful or indicative of the best schools in the world. It was this way before the NCLB Act.

What can be done?

1. Colleges are at fault for not producing more well-trained teachers who are able to assess, diagnose, and prescribe learning for mastery.

2. Districts are to blame for not developing a standard of curriculum that every teacher must follow and making sure that it is done. You would be shocked at the shoody attempts I have seen to slign curriculum.

3. Principals must be held accountable for achievement and mastery- diverting all resources to that goal. Every child must be able to read, write, and compute successfully, on his her grade level, and be making measurable progress each year. Not too much to ask for from America's schools and what every parent and child deserves.

4. Teachers MUST be held accountable for their teaching, and for student achievement. Teachers who are not doing their job need to leave the profession and let motivated teachers take over.
There are A LOT of poor teachers out there; and nobody is firing them.

You may not agree and you have a right too. But every parent and child in this country deserves the best any teacher can give them. If that teacher is drilling all day instead of teaching, she has a lot to learn about merrging curriculum and instruction with standards--maybe the whole school does starting with the principal who allows such nonsense.

I have worked in an inner city school, and it appears that some of the people who have posted here are unclear on what it is like to work there. Many students in those schools are not motivated to learn. They could care less about a high stakes test. Many of the students fall into the lowest score categories. Most of the parents of those students are concerned. The community is overrun wiht crime and the people who make the most money in that community generally do so by doing something illegal. Most of the students have a family member who is in prison and many of them know someone who has died violently. 13 and 14 year old students become pregnant with frightening regularity.

These students come to school and perform poorly on the state mandated tests. The school and the staff are labeled as failures. The test simply does not increase student performance. The vast majority of the teachers in those classrooms are there because they have made a choice to be there. Many of them jave exceptional skills and spend extra time reaching out to these students. Many of them spend their money and ask for more money for the students from their family and friends.

In spite of all the obstacles, these teachers manage to reach some of the students and get them on a path to a better life. These students that are saved manage to go on and acquire the skills that they need to be successful on completion of school.

These teachers are giving their best and to imply otherwise does them great disservice. Having taught in a variety of settings, I have met some of the finest people in the role of teachers that you would ever want to know.

Most teachers I have met are not satisfied with the status quo. They spend time learning new methods that will help their students learn and be successful. They spend additional time every night working to come up with lessons that engage the students and meet the curriculum that is prescribed by the state.

I don't know where people think that teachers have it easy. If a teacher has 100 students (middle and high school) and assigns a graded assignment only twice a week, makes a relevant comment on the assignment , and records the assignment in the gradebook and it takes 5 minutes to do this per assignment, that is a total of 1000 minutes per week grading. 2 phone calls per day to parents at 10 minutes a call is an additional 100 minutes a week. At this point, we are up to over 18 hours in a week doing things that involve no direct student interaction.

When we add a typical at least an hour a day (for many teachers it is much more) for developing lesson plans, then we are up to 23 hours per week. We still are doing things that involve no student interaction.

The departmental meetings, grade level meetings and school wide staff meetings add another hour a week (at least). Now we are up to 24 hours. Still no student interaction. Add the extra half hour a day most of us spend monitoring the lunchroom, doing tardy sweeps or monitoring the halls before and after school and we are up to 26.5 hours.

When direct instructional time is added into this, then we add another 25 hours per week into the teachers work schedule. At this time, the teacher is working almost 52 hours per week. Many teachers work considerably more than that. Add in the time that we spend supervising after school activities like sports, dances, and extra curricular activities. We also spenf time upgrading our skills so that we can be prepared when we walk into the classroom.

As much as I don't like to stand up for adminsitrators, most of them work more hours than the teachers.

I am not trying to place the blame on students here. Most of them are doing the best they can with what they were given. I am not trying to say that we cannot do our jobs better. Most teachers are constantly looking for better methods.

The problem is that we do not know what we are measuring. The skills- "THE BASICS" - that people want to get back to were good enough 50 years ago, but those skills will leave our students ill prepared for competition in a worldwide job market.

We don't know WHY kids are failing. We don't know WHY kids are dropping out. Maybe some kids are dropping out because we keep telling them that they are failures because they can't pass some state mandated test.

I have yet to see someone go into the schools and ask the teachers why the kids are not making it. I have yet to see someone go to the students and ask them why they are not making it. I have yet to see someone go to the parents and ask why their kids are not making it.

No one comes around and asks us, THE TEACHERS that do the job what we need to do the job more successfully. No one addresses the fact that we do not have enough supplies to do our job and no one wants to pay more money to get us those supplies.

When I taught 8th grade math in an inner city school, fully 40% of my students fell below the 20th percentile coming into my classroom. A number of them fell below the 5th percentile.

I reached some of them. They learned. They improved. They scored higher on the state test. They FAILED the 8th grade because they could not perform at grade level.

Despite all of the work they had done, they were still labeled as failures. What would your motivation be coming back the following year after that. I saw students who were devastated because of all of the work that they had put in just to find out that they had failed yet once again.

Now, people want to penalize me and teahcer like me because we care enough to work with the neediest students and make an improvement in their lives because the students cannot pass a meaningless test. If I was to leave a career because of this, I would be unlikely to return. If I was to see teachers being treated this way, I would be unlikely to apply for a school that appeared to be in any danger of failing.

What will end up happening is that the rooms will be staffed by substitutes. There will be fewer licensed teachers. Since we will have to fail 25% of the teachers under the new proposal, we will have to climb into the ranks of the schools that are only performing at a mediocre level in order to meet that goal. In a few years, we will have to start failing teachers in the better schools to meet that 25% ratio.

All because no one has taken the time to ask the stakeholders in this for input. I am sorry, but a former governor does not really qualify as a knowledgeable stakeholder. For those of you who feel that he does, perhaps you would be willing to let a former senator do brain surgery on you.

Lets fix our problems, but lets do it the right way.

NCLB is a nightmare for Spec. Ed. students and teachers. It is actual;ly leaving the Spec. Ed. students behind and all students who have an I.E.P. By making it compulsory for them to graduate in subjects in which it is medically proven that they have a major learning disability, it brings them even more down into their personal depression, sense of failure and spiral downwards with the only option left: to drop out of High School! If that is not the way to leave the "undesirable" students out, then what is it? I say REPEAL the NCLB.

As a 4th grade teacher who is dealing with the effects of NCLB, I do not think that it should be renewed. It has caused teachers like myself to focus only on Reading and Math whie the other subjects go basically by the wasteside. I feel that this is causing the students to be more likely to fail than to achieve success. When I started teaching 13 years ago, I could incorporate what I wanted and make connections with my students through many different teaching methods. However, now all I feel is pressure to complete the pacing guide. If I do not complete the guide in time for the students to do well on the test then I have failed as a teacher for that class. I think that teachers should be rewarded for what they do in the class without the pressure of completing a schedule of lessons. That's why I think that the NCLB should not be renewed.

Reauthorize? NO!
Dismantle and eliminate? YES!
No amount of additional funding will repair this disastrous legislation. It was flawed from the beginning and it needs to be scrapped. Members of congress were not elected to become a self-imposed national school board.
Let me offer two sites to read and explore:
1. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/2/15/13183/8556
2. http://www.EducatorRoundtable.org

As a public school teacher of 18 years, I have concluded that No Child Left Behind is the worst educational legislation to ever be imposed upon both students and teachers. The idea of "no child left behind" looks good on paper and it is the dream of every dedicated teacher for this to be reality. However, the ridiculous emphasis on standardized testing keeps even the brightest students from reaching their academic potential, not to mention the frustration and failure it brings to Special Education and ESOL students.
I am a middle school English teacher in a once excellent school and I am horrified by the
new methods of determining success for students.
Rather than allowing teachers to use their strengths, education and creativity, No Child Left
Behind dictates that the end-of-year standardized
assessment is the only item of any educational
value. For the entire school year, English teachers must teach students how to take a standardized reading test in which short passages are
followed by several multiple choice questions that
may be looked up in the passage. Often unmotivated
students who do not even read the test make scores
that exceed students who read every word carefully. I had a student one year who copied the entire scantron sheet from a student seated
next to him (his test was in a different order)and
his test came back with a passing score. He was
obviously made to re-take the test due to the cheating, but does this make a point concerning the value of the test? Guessing or cheating is not a valid assessment of student learning. When I
first became a teacher, there were the traditional
end-of-year assessments, but the emphasis on these tests was not as obsessive. Then, teachers
were able to inspire their students to develop a
love for reading and mathematics, as well as other
academic subjects. Teaching was a rewarding and fun profession. Now, we must teach the test,
whether students actually gain any knowledge or
not. Students become bored and frustrated which causes them to become disciplinary problems.

Our first lady, Laura Bush, is one of the biggest fans of her husband's failed program. She worked as a school librarian and tauts this as experience. There is no end-of-year assessment given in "library," so she knows nothing about
actual test preparation in a classroom. It seems that those who hold teachers accountable for student performance are those who sit in offices that are away from school buildings. If they were put into a classroom for even one week, they would be shocked to see what the life of a teacher is life. If No Child Left Behind is reauthorized in any form, it will remain as one of my teacher colleagues says, "No one gets ahead, so no one is left behind."

As an engineer who spends time in a classroom, I can see that the wrong skills are often taught. Presumably this is because of the need to teach to the test in order to obtain funding. As a parent, I can say that a child's *mind* is far more important than a child's grades or test scores. NCLB funds the wrong values.

IS NCLB necessary? Should it reauthorized?

Two dades ago, prior to education reform, there was an egregious problem with what students were/were not learning in our public schools. It was the business community who insisted that too many of our "graduates" were lacking the basic skills necessary to earn a high school diploma. Most everyone agreed. Our public schools had to improve.

The business community then pressured state legislators for reform. Eventually state
lawmakers usurped powers from local school boards and school administrators in state by state education reform.

Under this sweeping legislation “standards” were established to be taught in the major disciplines from one year to the next. Eventually, a corresponding comprehensive assessment system was established to ensure the standards were being learned.

That’s right. Since public education began a century and a half ago there was no promulgated plan of what was supposed to be taught in our public schools. All those tax dollars spent on public education over all that time and no formal strategy for learning had ever been put in place by those in charge, the educational establishment - teachers, administartors, school boards, schools of education, and teachers unions.

After observing this system over the past three and a half decades it's apparent to me, as a teacher, the problem has been systemic. I don't believe it's anyone's fault. No one intentionally or maliciously muddied the educational waters and I don't believe anyone needs to be taken to the woodshed for its failings. However, it is also not difficult to understand why an outside agent had to intervene on behalf of the students attending our public schools. The only question that comes to mind is, why did it take so long?

I have been a teacher of poor children for many years. As such I have tried hard to give my first-graders many of the opportunities I afforded my own sons, who were educated at Harvard and Stanford. Many thousands of personal dollars were spent each year on beautiful picture books, computer programs, math manipulatives and materials for science experiments and art lessons. I purchased award-winning videos such as The Snowman and the Nutcracker in order to enhance background knowledge and vocabulary development. I got to school early each day to make sure my classroom environment was as stimulating as possible. If my students expressed an interest in dinosaurs or any other subject, I ran to the nearest library or bookstore to obtain needed books and supplies. Each summer I kept my students in mind when I vacationed in a new country. Again, much money was spent on videos, prints, books and artifacts to share with the children. My fellow teachers did the same.

All this changed with No Child Left Behind. Suddenly there was tremendous pressure on me to "just teach the curriculum." One principal actually used the words that are really meant: "Just teach to the test." Even the video of The Nutcracker was discouraged because it "doesn't address the standards."

One day it occurred to me that I was being asked to teach in the easiest way possible: by the book. All that I have to do now is teach the basics (book and workbook) and "everyone" is satisfied. Instead of accessing the Internet and learning to use word processing, all my students are now required to be on Rosetta Stone (software for learning English) for a half hour each day, EVEN THE STUDENTS WHO SPEAK ONLY ENGLISH! Of course my students do well on benchmark tests because I drill them on the specific items. Now I do not have to get to school early to prepare paints or make sure I have enough papers and markers to allow the children to create their own books. After school and weekends I don't have to visit libraries and teacher supply stores to get new ideas. All I do is low-level, bare-bones teaching, as required by NCLB. The teacher's manuals are my main tools now.

In the meantime, my grandchildren are attending an affluent public school in San Diego. For them there is a "developmental kindergarten," art teacher, music teacher and five college-educated parent volunteers per day for each classroom. Parents pay for children to be taken to a live performance of the Nutcracker; no need of a video for the privileged.

The worst part of this whole mess is that the best teachers at my school are requesting transfers to the affluent part of town, or applying to affluent districts. Fortunately for me and my students, I'll be retiring in June.

NCLB and the Iraq war are alike in one other way: Both were initiated based on lies to the American people.

I say, and at least 26,000 people agree: IT'S TIME TO MOVE FORWARD!


NCLB is the domestic equivalent of the Iraq war, except that it retains far more bipartisan support. It creates conditions that set schools up for failure, because it's siming toward the privatization of schools (i.e., schools under corporate control, just like Fox News). Think Americans are politically illiterate now? Just wait.

NCLB can be saved, but should NCLB be saved? No.

Should the reauthorization of NCLB be delayed? Yes, but it probably won’t.

To build a political case for leaving no child behind on the premise that the neighborhood public school is the place to inoculate America against “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” appears to be as politically prescient as the nexus between invading Iraq and finding weapons of mass destruction.

Bigotry, whether soft or hard, is not the common ground that makes America a stronger nation. Neither do expectations, whether low or high, automatically equate to bigotry – in our hospitals, in our churches, in our grocery stores, in our fire departments, in our police departments, in our public libraries, or in our public schools.

NCLB is one ill-conceived, under-funded, big-government program that is punitive, overly-narrowing the curriculum, and simply, is destructive to the long term interests of America.

We need to trust local school boards to oversee local neighborhood schools. Parents and teachers want well-rounded children who will be responsible and productive citizens, not just good test takers. Parents and teachers want students who are grounded in the foundation skills of reading, writing, and math, of course. They also want students who are creative, imaginative, and who seek discovering the yet undiscoverable.

Will NCLB inoculate America against the soft bigotry of low expectations? Have we found the weapons of mass destruction yet?

William E. Powell, retired Superintendent

P. O. Box 1563

Gunnison, CO 81230

Phone: 1-970-641-0637

E-mail: [email protected]

NCLB freezes in rigid place a curriculum designed in 1893, a curriculum suffering from myriad problems any one of which is sufficiently serious to make it unacceptable.

For an overview, check out:


I happened upon this site this morning while thinking about an all day in-service scheduled for my district tomorrow on President's Day (when a lot of "real world" business will be closed. Our topic is "Assessment". This always reminds me of the Paul Simon song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", as I refer to "Another 50 ways to Assess Students". I was studying for a business degree when my I volunteered to work in my own children's classrooms. This was at the same time the infamous "A Nation At Risk" came into light. I found a strange dichotomy happening. I personally saw my children's teachers working very hard and in my university classes they were being desecrated because of this report. A very confusing situation to say the least. Fast forward 20 years, using a new name, NCLB, and the tense atmosphere is worse today. All the above comments capture the essence of what is going on. To the respondents who feel that justice is finally being served on the institution of public education, the only thing I can say to that is everyone wants rules and regulations except when it comes to their own child! Then they want to negotiate everything. In the meantime, I think educators should wear bulls-eye t-shirts to work everyday, so everyone can take their best shot and let's give everyone an "A"!

We've got a gaggle of HqT's (Highly Qualified Teachers) but I ask you where are the highly effective teachers? There MUST be a balance.

In our haste to provide students with qualified teachers NCLB does not recognize that content knowledge does NOT make a teacher effective.

In 2 years I have let go of 3 FULLY CREDENTIALED teachers,
replace them with (my new phrase) T-I-T's Teachers in training.

These teachers are staying one step ahead of the students in content, however they have the manage needed to impart the knowledge to kids.

My premise is this: GOOD teaching is GOOD teaching regardless of the level . Having a credential doesn't make you Highly Qualified!

I'll take my newbie teachers with CBSE, their love of kids, and their enthusiasm any day!

One size does not fit all and i think that this is what needs to be remembered. I am a teacher in an poor urban school setting where we do not have the resources that are necessary to be successful everyday. We work as hard as any school district to raise the scores of our kids but the fact remains the same...when our kids leave the school they are in a world where they are more concerned who is coming home or who will end up in jail or worse dead. We have parents who are trying their best to help their kids and those who are able to rise above the bar move thier kids out of the danger that they live in each day. On top of this add our continual new arrivals from the islands and somalia...our kids are learning perhaps they are not at state standards but they are learning and growing everyday. Even with corporate sponsers to help us to improve everyday, there is no changing the background that these children come from. Until we can change this our kids will continue to learn everyday although they may not be at the NCLB state standard...

As a school board member in a district with outstanding schools, this district and no other one with special needs or ELL children will be able to reach Barbara Spelling's impossible "goals." NCLB is a tool in the master plan for the proivatization of public education and the busting of teacher associations. To join in the "No to NCLB" campaign sign the petition at educatorroundtable.org

NCLB has one telling flaw. There are no real consequences for the person taking the test. Poor results can bring all manner of evils down upon the teacher, the school, the district, and the state. The person with the pencil in hand may not get to go on the reward trip, get the day off, or get an ice cream sundae. If all manner of evils came down upon the student who failed to master grade level skills, teachers would become the wonderful source they would like to be. Instead of being the ogres that are trying to inflict boring information on poor little children in order to get bonuses for improved scores, they would become the shining light ready to lead those same little sweeties out of the darkness of retention and summer school and into the shining light of knowledge. Parents would seek them out to thank them for helping their children become all they can be instead of regarding them as monsters who pick on their babies and give homework on nights when people have ball games, dance lessons, and other important things to do. Of course real consequences to students would also require some sort of allowance for children who have real learning problems, but very few teachers ever thought things should be any other way. We need real tests based on real standards with real consequences/rewards/penalties for everyone with responsibility for student learning.

I just read a summary of the recommendations made by the Forum on Educational Accountability regarding NCLB. It struck me that their recommendations (full of "requires" and "shoulds"), while speaking to capacity, sought to place the spotlight back on inputs rather than outcomes.

I was reminded on an intense and long period of my life when I worked closely with children (in a residential setting)to understand the inherent link between freedom and responsibility. I remember our wise director who reminded us that very few people want to be free (and shoulder the required responsibility) and a wise nurse who offered in terms of safety and prevention the reminder that adults "do stupid things when they are tired or angry."

Placing all accountability efforts on the inputs removes any responsibility for whether or not those inputs results in any learning for students. Accepting responsibility for results actually grants enormous responsibility for HOW the results are gained. This change has been a difficult one to accept.

Many adults in education are angry. I grieve to hear that somebody thinks that the Nutcracker is not an important part of education. But I have to wonder--were the kids actually learning to read? Is the reason for the change that they weren't learning? Could be. Or it could be that some angry adult is acting out by forcing teachers to suck the life out of their curriculum to prove some point about why schools should be less accountable for learning.

You can tell this is my reading day. Teaching Tolerance has a good article about balancing test prep with good solid education.


This is a superb article because it begins to address the fundamental flaw in NCLB. Rather than apply state-of-the-art measurement techniques and motivation systems, NCLB mimics 1970's industrial quality control systems with its external and arbitrary measurements, blame the worker (teacher) approach and lack of support for improvement. That same approach led to the loss of manufacturing preeminence to the Japanese in the 1970's. Now, our government is applying it to education.

A well-designed education funding and improvement law would also make extensive use of measurement systems. However, those measurements would be carried out by the workers (teachers) responsible for results, and would be designed to help them improve their teaching. I am speaking, of course, of formative assessments. Simple measurements performed on a frequent basis to make sure that students are on track. The most well-known example (albeit with significant flaws) is the DIBELS test of reading. Such measurements can be rolled up for school, district and state reporting purposes, but, must not be separate from the teaching process.

Second, such a law would fund the training of teachers in successful teaching methods appropriate for their students. Of course, we would need to pay for research to find out what works best for whom. However, much of that data is available today from publishers. Our government simply needs to collect it, judge the validity, and publicize those methods that are known to work along with descriptions of who benefits. Think medical treatments and how doctors choose among them.

Third, such a law would empower teachers to select their teaching methods based on the results of their assessment work. NCLB leaves in place our clumsy, bureaucratic system of Special Education assignments. It encourages a similarly rigid 3-tier teaching model for reading in its Reading First provisions. It requires that schools and districts make decisions for teachers, rather than the other way around. How would you feel if your state told your doctor which medicine to prescribe for you for a specific complaint?

A well-designed education law would fund extensive research on the various teaching systems available, and promulgate the findings widely so that teachers can select what they need, much as doctors do today. The What Works Clearinghouse built into NCLB is a pale imitation of such a robust research effort. And, by the way, it would cost real money. The article is right in saying that 3-5% of total expenditures for R&D is not unreasonable. While some of that cost can be offloaded to publishers who develop the materials, we should not follow the path of our medical colleagues who have arguably handed the keys of scientific evaluation to the drug and device companies being evaluated.

Finally, a well-crafted education law would focus federal money where it’s most needed. That means K-3 education where children learn to read, calculate and reason. If we needed to spend twice as much on K-3 education as we do today, we would save far more in remedial education during the middle and high school years. Funding must be tied to the cost of success, rather than to equity formula, civil rights goals or other well-intentioned, but, counterproductive motivations.

Until there is a real national will to educate the population of our children well, no bandage, even if well crafted, will "fix" what is broken with our systems of education in America.

Those with the means and the desire will continue to provide their children with rich educational experiences. The rest.....oh well. We do need a cheap labor force in this country, don't we?

Herschbach (2001) opined that meaningful education connects what is learned in the classroom to the real world. According to NCLB one-hundred percent of students will be expected to achieve proficiency in all academic content areas by the year 2014. Policies that drive the assessment movement require students to take more academic coursework.Student schedules are often controlled by the increasing number of classes required in core content areas at the expense of elective course offerings. In addition, with the pressure to meet academic standards, educational leaders may not have time to consider the impact this focus will have on students.

NCLB provides information on state standards, assessments, yearly progress, military recruitment, safe schools, home-schooling, homeless students, parent letters and surveys. Interestingly, NCLB is silent on specific reforms for improving career education. Further,
vocational policies have not been enforced as they were originally intended. Career education has been, “…overshadowed by state academic standards and assessments and by accountability systems that often ignores vocational and technical learning”. In addition, the reduction of these classes may be partially due to the Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999, which began the high stakes testing movement in California, and subsequently by NCLB in 2001. As a result, the number of career education course offerings has declined in recent years in California.

K-12 administrators are charged with the responsibility of providing quality education and helping students meet high standards. Many administrators have attempted to improve career education at the site level, but modifications are difficult, due, in part, to federal and state mandates. Educator groups must consider instructional strategies that will improve student understanding of life after high school. Connecting academics to the real world is the key and educators must demand language in NCLB to reflect multiple pathways (combining academics and career education) that will connect high school to life beyond graduation.

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  • Deb Rowe, Educator: Herschbach (2001) opined that meaningful education connects what is learned read more
  • Disgusted: Until there is a real national will to educate the read more
  • Jon Bower / Educator+Process Engineer: This is a superb article because it begins to address read more
  • Margo/Mom: You can tell this is my reading day. Teaching Tolerance read more
  • Margo/Mom: I just read a summary of the recommendations made by read more




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